Carlos Sainz Jnr admits he struggled from the start of Friday’s single practice session after qualifying fourth on the grid for Sunday’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
The Ferrari driver will start Sunday’s grand prix from the second row on but was more than eight tenths of a second slower than his team mate Charles Leclerc, who secured pole position.
Sainz admitted he had not gotten to grips with his car on Friday, making mistakes throughout the afternoon qualifying session which left him behind the Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez.
“Honestly, since the very first run of FP1, I was just struggling,” said Sainz. “Same car, same set-up as Australia and for some reason I was just off. Off with the feeling of balance [and] with my own driving.”
Sainz had a harmless spin at turn one during the qualifying session. “I was just tending to struggle quite a bit,” he explained. “In the end I put myself into even more trouble in Q1 and Q2 by doing mistakes and losing even more confidence with the car. I was trailing the whole day.”
The Baku City Circuit has previously not been one of Sainz’s strongest venues. Leclerc has excelled at the street course and secured his third consecutive pole position there today.
“It hasn’t been an easy track for me in the past, for sure,” Sainz said. “I think it’s also the best track for Charles. I think he always tends to do particularly good laps and [is] particularly good around here.
“Congratulations [to Leclerc], because putting the Ferrari back on pole is great news for the team and a huge boost of motivation. We could already see some positive signs in Australia and without even bringing upgrades here he managed to put it on pole. So happy days, but homework to do for me.”
After a disappointing start to the season for Ferrari, Sainz says his team mate’s result shows they have made progress with their car.
“I think at the end of the last year it was also the case where we were fighting for poles and then lacking in the race, but this year, up until now, we had never had the pace to fight for pole,” Sainz said.
“It looks like the changes we’ve done recently are allowing us to be back in there and there’s still upgrades to come, so hopefully it’s a sign for the beginning of a new season, and we’ve found the problems with our car.”
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2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix
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